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by Lucía Rodríguez Sánchez

Ron Ron Ron Ron

Astronium graveolens

Family: Anacardiaceae

Common name: Ron-ron

Comercial name: Ron-ron wood

Ron-ron (Astronium graveolens) wood is very heavy to extremely heavy, with a basic specific gravity of 0.86, the density of this timber is inconsistent among different samples, and also within the same sample but the dark zones always are the heavier ones. Over green condition the sapwood is light brown-grayish or dark brown-yellowish, while the heartwood could be since grayish-orange, reddish-brown to bright red with narrow to wide irregular bands of medium to very dark deep-brown. After exposure to air and light, ron-ron wood becomes brown-reddish or dark reddish with nearly black stripes (Marín & Flores, 2002)[1].

This timber is excellent for quality furniture, cabinets, turnery, floors, parquet, decorative veneers, sport implements, carving, paneling, heavy construction, and general construction. Its high resistance and natural durability combine with its beauty, making it an appropriate timber for multiple decorative uses, and it is excellent for pulp paper manufacture. Wood drying occurs at moderate speed, and slight drying defects could take place, such as cracking at the ends or small lateral cracks.

The wood grain varies from straight to intercross, with wide bands. Texture is fine and homogenous, and the luster normal to high. The timber figure is very attractive, with brown-dark-reddish or blackish vertical lines, narrow to wide with irregular space. Even though Astronium graveolens is a high density wood, it is not difficult to work with. It is easy to saw and easy to plane and paint. It finishes extraordinarily well, and it takes a high natural polish. But it is not easy to glue. The green weight is 1120 kg/m3 (2469 pounds/m3), with 50.2 percent moisture content. Wood mechanical properties are standard to high; it is a strong timber with hardness capable of substituting for cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa) and Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra [Vell.]). Ron ron is very resistant to insect attack and is resistant to fungi only if it is not in contact with the ground (Flores & Obando)[2].

Ron ron (Astronium graveolens, grows in the South of Mexico, all Central America, to Brazil and Bolivia. In Costa Rica the species grows throughout the Pacific cost, from Guanacaste to the south zone in the Osa Península and also over the northern zone in Upala and Los Chiles. The species grows from sea level to elevations of 1000 m (3280.84 feet). It generally grows in flat to moderate inclined areas, including stony sites, so it is considered as a non soil- or site-demanding species.

It is a tree up to 30 m (98.4 feet) in height and 80 cm (2.6 feet) DBH. Normally it is a canopy tree in the dry forest, where it is also deciduous, and it is less common in the rainforest. The species has a cylindrical trunk, sometimes with lower branches; it has light gray bark, exfoliating in small circular plates. The species currently has little developed buttresses. Flowering occurs between December to March, and fruits need to be gathered between February and May, in the top of the tree.

This species has been grown in plantations in Costa Rica and medium to slow growth with high average survival is reported. Occasionally the species branches out, so pruning is essential at an early stage (Jimenez, Q et all, 2002).[3]

[1] W.A. Marin & E. M. Flores, in Tropical Trees Seed Manual, USDA, Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook 721, October 2002. 311-313

[2] Flores, E. & Obando, G. Árboles del Trópico húmedo. Importancia socioeconómica. Editorial Tecnológica de CR. 2003. 922p.

[3] Jiménez, Q. et all. Árboles maderables de Costa Rica, Ecología y Silvicultura. Editorial Inbio y E. Tecnológica de CR., 2002. 361p.